Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eighteenth Amendment

The Eighteenth Amendment (Amendment XVIII of the United States Constitution, along with the Volstead Act (which defined "intoxicating liquors" excluding those used for religious purposes and sales throughout the U.S.), established Prohibition in the United States. Its ratification was certified on January 16, 1919. It is the only amendment to the Constitution that has been repealed (by the Twenty-first Amendment) (1933).

The amendment did not ban the consumption of alcohol, but made it difficult to obtain legally.

Following significant pressure on lawmakers from the temperance movement, the House of Representatives passed the amendment on December 18, 1917. It was certified as ratified on January 16, 1919, having been approved by 36 states. It went into effect one year after ratification, on January 17, 1920. (Many state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment.)

When Congress submitted this amendment to the states for ratification, it was the first time a proposed amendment contained a provision placing a deadline for its ratification. The validity of that clause of the amendment was challenged and reached the Supreme Court, which ruled in the case of Dillon v. Gloss in 1921 and upheld the constitutionality of such a deadline.

Because many Americans attempted to evade the restrictions of Prohibition, there was a considerable growth in organized crime in the United States in response to public demand for illegal alcohol. The amendment was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment on December 5, 1933. It remains the only constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety.

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